Steering Shaft/ Steering shaft u-joint replacement

Tiny
SUMMS
  • MEMBER
  • 2002 FORD EXPLORER
  • 4.6L
  • V8
  • 4WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 310,000 MILES
Is it possible to change just the u-joint out on the steering shaft of the vehicle listed above? Or do I need to just replace the entire steering shaft? Just to make sure I’m talking about the steering shaft that connects to rack and pinion and not the drive shaft. If you could include instructions from the repair manual on both if possible or just for the entire replacement. Thanks for your help. You guys got me through my last repair of replacing the motor and transmission mounts (Ford didn’t make that one easy on this car) so I have faith you guys will do right by me again.
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Saturday, October 23rd, 2021 AT 10:33 PM

9 Replies

Tiny
KASEKENNY1
  • EXPERT
Just to be sure we are on the same page, take a look at the picture below. You are talking about changing this joint?

If that is the case then no, you cannot change just the joint. You need to change the at entire shaft that is shown in the same picture.

https://www.2carpros.com/articles/how-car-steering-works

I also attached the instructions on how to change this shaft. Please run through this info and let us know if you have other questions on this.

Thanks
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Sunday, October 24th, 2021 AT 2:45 PM
Tiny
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Okay, that s a bummer you can t just replace the u joint in there. This is the lower intermediate shaft, correct? Can the upper intermediate shaft be replaced as well? The reason I ask is my steering has become super loose at highway speeds and I ve narrowed it down to either the steering column shaft or the rack and pinion itself because I have replaced everything else. I ve replaced inner/outer tie rods upper/lower ball joints; struts, hub assemblies, my power steering fluid level stays constant in the reservoir so that doesn t appear to be the issue. When I pull out the intermediate shaft what should I look for as far as wear goes so, I know if that is indeed what needs replaced or if I should focus my attention on the rack and pinion?
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Sunday, October 24th, 2021 AT 4:38 PM
Tiny
KASEKENNY1
  • EXPERT
Okay. That is great info. The u joint on the shaft would not cause the steering to be loose at highway speeds. When a u joint starts to fail it actually binds and causes the steering to be stiff or even make noise.

I would focus on the power steering system side (rack and pump) or even the alignment.

If the caster is too far positive, then that will cause the steering to be much easier and would be noticed at highway speeds more than anything else.

Have you noticed this change over time, or do you think this is just not correct because you just got this vehicle?
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Sunday, October 24th, 2021 AT 5:01 PM
Tiny
SUMMS
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So, all of the suspension parts were worn, and I replaced all of them. I also got an alignment after I replaced all of those parts described in my last message. So, I don t believe it would be the alignment. I think it must be something with the power steering. The fluid doesn t appear to be leaking. If it is then it s minimal because the level remains where it should be in the reservoir. I attached a picture because when my friend was helping me with some of the suspension parts replacements, I remember him saying something fell down to the ground and he didn t know what it was and thought it was something not important or from an old repair or something. He described something similar to that thin black rod looking piece on the top of the rack and pinion that looks like it connects to the bellows on either side that cover the inner tie rods. What is this piece and if it s missing could it cause these issues?
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Sunday, October 24th, 2021 AT 7:30 PM
Tiny
SUMMS
  • MEMBER
And now I think about it. I really started to notice the issue more once I got the vehicle back from getting an alignment. I remember stopping and checking tire pressure and they had been over inflated for what is spec and I deflated them to where they should be and thought that was the problem, but it has continuously gotten worse. So maybe I should have a different shop do an alignment and see what they say but I still want to check the rack and pinion. What should I look for as far as wear on the R&P?
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Sunday, October 24th, 2021 AT 8:25 PM
Tiny
KASEKENNY1
  • EXPERT
Okay. Based on all this information I am thinking that this is normal. If there were something wrong with the power steering as a result of something that happened as you described, then the steering would get harder.

Based on everything that was replaced, I suspect the steering did get much easier because all those parts would directly affect the ease of steering.

I have driven a lot of Explorers over the years, and they do have very easy steering especially at highway speeds.

Do you have a printout of the alignment that was performed? The normally provide that with the paperwork. If you can provide that document, then I can tell you is the caster is not correct.

Plus, caster does not affect tire wear at all, only steering ease and return to center. Let me know if you can get that printout and we can figure out next steps, but it sounds like with everything that was done, it returned the vehicle to the way it should be steering.
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Monday, October 25th, 2021 AT 5:58 AM
Tiny
SUMMS
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No, I can promise you this is not how the vehicle should be steering. I m pretty good with cars and know what it s supposed to be acting like and this is not it. It s not just ease of steering this is borderline unsafe at highway speeds. Like I wouldn t want anyone else driving the car on the highway until they got the feel for it because it would be really easy for them to mess something up. I guess I m going to have to just keep trying to figure out what it is then, I know it s hard for you over the internet and not being able to see or drive the car. Thanks.
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Monday, October 25th, 2021 AT 9:29 AM
Tiny
SUMMS
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Plus, you never answered my question about what that part of the rack and pinion is. I think it s the hydraulic transfer tubing of the rack and pinion but I m not 100% sure. What would be the symptoms if this were missing.
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Monday, October 25th, 2021 AT 9:31 AM
Tiny
KASEKENNY1
  • EXPERT
Okay. You are correct, I am not driving it, so it is hard to know what you are feeling. So, if this is not normal then I would think it is a power steering issue.

However, if it all started after changing these suspension parts and alignment then I would suggest getting those numbers for me so that we can see where they are set to see if they are related.

As for the tube that connects the bellows, that is an air transfer tube.

You do need to have that installed but that is just to keep dirt and debris out of the bellows.

Basically, as you turn back and forth, there needs to be air movement, so they just move the air back and forth rather than letting it pull in fresh air that contains all the dirt and dust being kicked up from the road.

Once you have dirt in the boots then you will need to replace the rack shortly thereafter.

Take a look at the info below.
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Monday, October 25th, 2021 AT 12:58 PM

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